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Ham and front-leg ham from the Iberian pig in Sierra de Aracena

28 mars 2013 By Maestro Gourmet In Articles
Ham and front-leg ham from the Iberian pig in Sierra de Aracena

Ham from the Iberian pig is a unique product, perhaps the most representative of our country's cuisine. The legs of the Iberian pig are, as our famous gastronomes call them, a star product, and perhaps in the not-so-distant future, they may become the crown jewel of the Spanish agro-food industry beyond our borders. There are many who believe that the cradle of the culture of Iberian ham is located around the primary towns in the three quintessential geographical production areas: Jabugo in Huelva, Guijuelo in Salamanca, and Montánchez in Cáceres, although the first two are the ones that currently supply most of the market. The Iberian ham and front-leg ham that we discuss here, which are obtained from Iberian pigs that are slaughtered in the region of Sierra de Aracena and Picos de Aroche, salted, cured and aged in curing rooms in the same region, possess unique characteristics that distinguish them from the rest of the Iberian hams and front-leg hams in Spain.

The gastronome/writer Post-Thebussem, in his "Guide to good Spanish cuisine," kindly and specifically describes Jabugo ham, without taking anything away from the ham produced in other towns, as "unique, one-of-a-kind; there is nothing like it in the world." There are many reasons why he considers the ham from the Sierra to be "unique and one-of-a-kind," but from among them we will highlight two that are of great importance:

- The producers in the Sierra are located in enclaves that are, generally speaking, higher than 500 metres above sea level, in some cases higher than 700 metres. This gives them a unique microclimate for preparing this type of products. – Experience in the transformation and production of Iberian pig products, which, although it is still a job done by traditional producers who have learned to play with nature, benefit from the microflora and the region's environmental conditions, avoid or capitalise on the fickle interests of a changing climate, currently have a high level of technology with regards to the production, curing and aging of their ham and pork loin.

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